Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On the Move!

I've just started a new website, which will be a place to access my blog and other resources related to my writing, speaking, and teaching. I won't be adding new content here from now on, so to keep up with the latest, go to michaelwaustin.com


Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Contently Page

I've just set up a page at Contently: https://michaelaustin.contently.com/

I plan to use this as a place for easy access to my free online articles that have been published in a variety of different venues. If you're interested, check it out and bookmark the page.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Knowledge and Necessary Truths

"But it is the knowledge of necessary and eternal truths which distinguishes us from mere animals, and gives us reason and the sciences, raising us to knowledge of ourselves and God. It is this in us which we call the rational soul or mind."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Science, Eric Metaxas, and Christian Apologetics

Eric Metaxas recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing evidence from contemporary science in support of theism. As Metaxas himself notes, the argument itself is not new, as philosophers in recent years have discussed and debated what has come to be know as the fine-tuning argument. His aim is to make more widely available this recent and somewhat influential argument.

Metaxas has received some criticism, not just from those who disagree with him about whether or not God exists, but also from some who are Christian theists yet think using science in this way is a misguided approach (see this piece by philosopher Francis Beckwith).

Without getting into the details of either the argument itself, or the arguments about the argument, I was reminded of the following advice from C.S. Lewis:
"If you know any science it is very desirable that you should keep it up. We have to answer the current scientific attitude towards Christianity, not the attitude which scientists adopted one hundred years ago. Science is in continual change and we must try to keep abreast of it. For the same reason, we must be very cautious of snatching at any scientific theory which, for the moment, seems to be in our favour. We may mention such things; but we must mention them lightly and without claiming that they are more than 'interesting'. Sentences beginning 'Science has now proved' should be avoided. If we try to base our apologetic on some recent development in science, we shall usually find that just as we have put the finishing touches to our argument science has changed its mind and quietly withdrawn the theory we have been using as our foundation stone" (God in the Dock, p. 92).
I don't mean to suggest the above as either a criticism or defense of the article by Metaxas. But I don't see that he has claimed "Science has now proved God," but rather that it points to God. And there is a distinction between employing arguments that employ contemporary science as part of a  cumulative case for God's existence, and using a particular scientific theory "as our foundation stone". Beckwith is right that philosophy is where we should begin when doing natural theology. But I think there is nothing wrong with pointing out that some findings of contemporary science point towards the truth of theism, rather than atheism.

When making cumulative case arguments for theism, over the years (and the generations) we'll be adding new stones and removing others, whether these stones are philosophical, empirical, or personal. The empirical data and their interpretation have a place, as Metaxas argues, but such stones should not be used as our foundation stone, as Lewis points out. For me, the foundation is philosophical, theological, and personal, in a particular sense of each of these terms.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Character Videos

The Character Project at Wake Forest University has posted five videos as a part of its "In Character" series. They include discussions of situationism and moral responsibility, virtue epistemology, humility and forgiveness, and character and liturgy, among other topics in philosophy, theology, and psychology:
All of these researchers were supported by the Project's funding competitions, and ultimately by the John Templeton Foundation.